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How much time do we spend reading and meditating on Scripture each day? How much time do we spend in silence, waiting for His voice, after we read it, pray and voice all our concerns to God? There are some powerful steps to entering communion with God through this lectio divina, or "holy reading" of Scripture mixed with prayer and contemplation:
(Call upon the Holy Spirit)
(Call upon the Holy Spirit, Who breathes life into us to receive His Word. Best to do praise and worship and prayer in the Spirit)
(1) Lectio. Read the passage of Scripture with an open heart to what God is saying.
(2) Meditatio. Meditate, or ponder in the heart (Luke 2:19), "what is God saying to me today?" Maybe there is a particular word or phrase that sticks out to us.
Witness Example: once, Lee Anne was meditating on the word, "therefore," as appears in Scripture so many times. She did not understand why this word had stood out to her. After 3 weeks (!) of meditating, waiting in silence and asking "what are You saying to me, Lord?" one day she heard her own voice, in her spirit, saying to God, "what did You send me up THERE FOR?" It was a revelation (Gal. 1:11-12) from the Lord! She realized that she had been upset with the Lord for sending her as a missionary to a town that she absolutely did not like. Of course, God later revealed His will and plan through a huge move of the Spirit in the life of the local priest and the parish...but at the time, she was upset! And, she didn't fully realize it! Thank God that He knows our own hearts better than we do- but it takes the Word ("sharper than a two-edged sword" Heb. 4:12) to pry it out of us.
(3) Oratio. If Lee Anne had stopped when she received the revelation of what "therefore" meant, it would not have been able to move any deeper. This is the prayer stage, where we pray with our hearts using what God is saying to us in Scripture. It is a "prayerful response" to what we are getting in the Bible.
(4) Contemplatio. "Contemplative prayer is silence...or 'silent love'...like kindling that feeds the fire of love." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2717). This is where we wait in silence; God has spoken in His Word, we have considered it and responded in faith and prayer- now we wait for what God may further reveal, or expand on His Word. It is a quiet hoping: "But they that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall take wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said the following:
“I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio Divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart [cf. Dei Verbum, n. 25]. If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church – I am convinced of it – a new spiritual springtime.” (link)
Wow! He also added, together with St. Ignatius Loyola, a fifth step to lectio, which is:
(5) Actio. "Faith without deeds is dead." (James 2:14) If we do not change according to what God is saying, the entire prayer exercise was useless! We need to respond in prayer, but also in action, as John the Baptist said, "bring forth fruits worthy of repentance." (Matt. 3:8) If God is speaking to us about forgiveness, we need to forgive, about the poor, we need to do something for someone in need, etc.
NB: the daily readings of the Church (esp. the Gospel) are a great choice for daily Scripture. Another option is to do a Scripture study of some kind: on our ministry Facebook page we have begun a "5 Minute Challenge" of a daily Scripture verse: a great opportunity to practice lectio divina! It is geared towards experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in the new year.